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    Mystery starts at No. 3 as Paras, Asaytono stay 1-2 in 1989 PBA redraft

    May 13, 2020

    UNANIMOUS was the choice of the 1989 draft class when the question of the best drafts in PBA history was first floated.

    Just look at those names who came to the league that year and you'll immediately understand how pundits of old put this batch in such high regard.

    Benjie Paras was immediately at the top of everyone's minds, but not far behind him are the likes of Nelson Asaytono and Bong Alvarez.

    With a draft this loaded and the PBA only having six teams that time, surely every squad aced their selections, right?

    Well, it turns out not quite.

    With that, Spin.ph decided to turn back the clock and do a redraft, factoring in everything these players have accomplished in their careers and looking at how these differences would have made in their careers.

    Take a look on how the first round would have played out.

    1. Benjie Paras (Formula Shell)

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    Where was he selected? 1st overall, Formula Shell
    Who was picked on this spot? Benjie Paras

    Formula Shell felt like it hit the jackpot when it was given the right to select at the pole position in the 1989 PBA Draft.

    That feeling turned to reality when Paras was finally part of the Zoom Masters, with the center from University of the Philippines immediately cementing the Dante Silverio-coached side as legitimate contenders.

    With "The Tower of Power" on board, Shell quickly found itself in the championship picture, making a spirited run to the Open Conference Finals before settling for bridesmaid honors to San Miguel.

    Paras was no doubt ths given, with him not only winning the Rookie of the Year honors but also becoming the first and only player to capture the Most Valuable Player award in his first season in the PBA.

    This one is certainly a no brainer.

    2. Nelson Asaytono (Purefoods)

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    Where was he selected? 2nd overall, Purefoods
    Who was picked on this spot? Nelson Asaytono

    Purefoods also aced its selection of Asaytono at no. 2 as "The Bull" can certainly be considered as one of the PBA's greats.

    It was quite a luxury, really, for Hotdogs that they operated with having the bull-strong forward from University of Manila come off the bench given how stacked his team was.

    Just look at those playing in front of Asaytono: Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, and Jojo Lastimosa -- all of whom were his former teammates with the national team.

    Yes, Asaytono's shine came as he got to the other teams, most notably with San Miguel, but can you imagine if Purefoods stuck with that loaded core? And with legendary mentor Baby Dalupan handling the team, we believe that a Grand Slam wouldn't be that far fetched.

    Snubbed as Asaytono was on a number of recognitions he, without question, also deserves, but at least for this one, the Hotdogs truly got this one right.

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    3. Ato Agustin (Presto Ice Cream)

    Where was he selected? 2nd round, San Miguel
    Who was picked on this spot? Zaldy Realubit

    Here's where things get interesting.

    Agustin had to play behind a loaded San Miguel side and had to wait for the chips to fall his way as injuries to top guys gave him the break he needed to win the MVP award in 1992.

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    Knowing that he had that talent in him, how fierce would it have been for Presto to have the luxury of having Agustin and the sweet-shooting Allan Caidic on its side in 1989?

    Remember, this was the season where "The Triggerman" was shattering records here and there, making 15 triples in one game to score 68 against Alaska.

    Yes, the Kapampangan guard from Lyceum would have to split time in the backcourt with the likes of Caidic, Willie Generalao, Padim Israel, Bai Cristobal, and later on, Bernie Fabiosa.

    But Agustin working with guys like Abe King and Manny Victorino at the frontcourt would have delivered easy baskets for the Tivolis of coach Jimmy Mariano.

    4. Bong Alvarez (Alaska)

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    Where was he selected? 4th overall, Alaska
    Who was picked on this spot? Bong Alvarez

    It was tempting to bump Alvarez up one notch, but we ultimately opted to keep him in Alaska in this redraft.

    "Mr. Excitement" truly delivered in his first year in the pros with the Air Force, showing why he's one of the top amateurs in his time with San Sebastian and a deserving member of the national team.

    Banking on his unmatched athleticism, Alvarez was a superb addition to Alaska, which rode on the leadership of Abet Guidaben, Yoyoy Villamin, Willie Pearson, Frankie Lim, and import Sean Chambers in coach Tim Cone's first year on the sidelines.

    His presence kept the Milkmen in contention in that stretch as the franchise finally won their first crown in the 1991 Open Conference, which also was Alvarez's lone PBA ring.


    Off-court issues hounded Alvarez' career when he left Alaska in 1992, and although he was mostly a journeyman from that point on, we still believe that he deserves his placing in this draft's top four.

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    5. Zaldy Realubit (Anejo Rum)

    Where was he selected? 3rd overall, Presto Ice Cream
    Who was picked on this spot? Romy dela Rosa

    Looking back, a player as hard-knocks as Realubit certainly would have fitted like a glove for Anejo Rum.

    The Agusan del Norte-born banger is right up the alley of the players playing-coach Robert Jaworski sought for, with the 6-foot-5 bruiser also adding to the 65ers ceiling.

    In Anejo Rum, Realubit would have to earn his spurs as he plays behind a no-nonsense frontline featuring Philip Cezar, Dondon Ampalayo, Rey Cuenco, Romy Mamaril, and Chito Loyzaga.

    But we believe it wouldn't have been long before the USJR product got his due time on the floor, pestering fellow bigs inside the paint and making strides for the blue-collar 65ers.

    6. Dindo Pumaren (San Miguel)

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    Where was he selected? 2nd round, Purefoods
    Who was picked on this spot? Bobby Jose

    Can you imagine Pumaren brothers Dindo and Franz running the backcourt for San Miguel? And to add, oldest brother Derrick was working as an assistant to coach Norman Black.

    Had this happened, it truly would have been a family affair in the Beermen camp.

    It won't be all rainbows and butterflies for Dindo, though, as he'll have to earn his minutes in a solid SMB backcourt which had his brother Franz, Hector Calma, and Alfie Almario.

    Yet it's a tremendous honor for him to not only learn the ropes from his veteran teammates but to also be part of history as this was the year when San Miguel won the rare Grand Slam.


      Here's who were left in the field (original placing in the draft inside the parentheses) :

      Romy dela Rosa (5th overall, Anejo Rum)
      Bobby Jose (6th overall, San Miguel)
      Elmer Cabahug (2nd round, Alaska)
      Nani Demegillo (2nd round, Presto)
      Ricric Marata (2nd round, Alaska)
      Peter Aguilar (2nd round, Anejo Rum)
      Bennett Palad (undrafted)
      Junel Baculi (undrafted)

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